Ultraviolet Radiation and the Work Environment (Revised. See: 74-121)

DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 73-11005

Ultraviolet radiation may cause injury to the skin and to the eyes. Exposure can cause sunburn and prolonged exposure can result in aging of the skin and can even cause skin cancer. This is particularly a problem for workers on farms, electrical linemen, seamen, and others whose work takes them outside a great deal. The radiation is particularly hazardous in that one at first may not even be aware that the danger exists. Conjunctivitis usually occurs 4 to 8 hours after exposure. Barrier creams and lotions give some protection for brief exposures. However, protective clothing, gloves and face shields are advised for all exposures, whether brief, intermittent, or prolonged. Enclosures or shields that are nontransparent to the radiation also can be used to control the exposure to radiation. Approved goggles, properly fitted are essential for all welding, cutting and open arc operations. Side and back screens should be used to protect other workers. Ventilation is not needed to protect the worker from ultraviolet radiation, but is needed to remove the toxic gases that may be created by the interaction of ultraviolet radiation with air and atmospheric contaminants. The manager of the facility must alert workers to the hazards. Workers bear the responsibility of understanding the rules and the reasons for safety and being sure they implement these safety precautions in their work.

Page last reviewed: March 29, 2017